Julia Child said: Everything in moderation ... including moderation.
I wish I had known this quote when I began to think about how to start eating healthy.
There are so MANY diets, fads, ideas, and opinions. It's easy to get lost. But these simple, common-sense ideas can help you to a great start!
If you want to successfully learn how to start to eat healthy take baby steps. You are looking for progress, not perfection.
Start simple and build up your know-how, skillset, and collection of simple recipes.
#1 Start Simple!
It's amazing how easily we can trip up because we try to do everything at once.
I know, because I've been guilty of this myself.
How to start eating healthy is the question we started with. Make small changes first.
You don't have to become a pescatarian (a vegetarian who eats fish, dairy, and eggs) super chef with a month's worth of perfectly prepared meals.
#2 Start Eating Healthy by Setting Health Goals
The best way to start to learn how to start eating healthy is to begin by setting some health goals.
Begin by envisioning what your life will look like once you've started eating healthy. How will your life be better?
If your primary reason for wanting to eat more healthily is to lose weight, begin by envisioning what your life would look like once you've reached your target weight.
What clothes would you wear? How would you act or feel if you dropped a bunch of weight?
If you've been struggling with health problems like high cholesterol or IBS, think about how a change in diet could benefit you.
Once you have a dream scenario worked out, it's time to get serious and write them down.
#3 Set SMART GOALS
Have you ever heard of SMART goals? If you have you know how powerful and life-changing SMART goals can be. And if you are unfamiliar with SMART goals, you'll be amazed at how transformative they can be.
Instead of saying "I want to lose weight" be specific and rephrase your goal to "I want to lose 15 lbs."
Making sure that you can measure your goal will give you a clear idea how well you're doing.
Make sure your goals are actually doable. Most likely you're not going to be successful if your goal is to lose 25 lbs in a month. It's ok to set the bar high, just don't set it so high that achieving it is impossible. You'll just end up feeling frustrated.
I am going to continue to use weigh-loss as an example. Let's say you're like me and love ice cream (Trader Joe's Mint Chocolate Chip anyone?!).
If you say that you'll never eat ice cream, well, that's probably just going to frustrate you and not going to happen.
Instead, you could rephrase it and say 'Because I want to lose weight, I will only eat ice cream once a week.'
That's a much more realistic goal. And there is nothing wrong with and a lot of things right with actually speaking goals out loud to yourself.
Set yourself a deadline. Setting due dates adds a layer of urgency. It will also help you procrastinate. Saying "I want to lose ten pounds." creates no sense of urgency.
You'll be amazed at how much of a positive difference you will experience once you incorporate SMART goals into your healthy living journey.
Setting health goals for yourself takes time and practice. And once you have worked what your goals are, make sure you write them down. Read them aloud. Because you want to change behavior you need to change your mindset.
#4 Meal Planning
Make time to plan your meals. I know that at first meal planning can feel overwhelming and time-consuming.
But if you want to live a healthier life, meal planning is key. And once you get into a meal planning routine, you will experience some major benefits:
- Save money. Because you know what you are going to cook ahead of time you know what to buy.
- Reduce waste. Most of us (and I am guilty of this myself) buy too much food. Once you plan your meals you know exactly what you need. This means less thrown out leftovers
- Save time. You don't have to scramble last minute to figure out what to make for dinner (or lunch).
- Take charge of your calorie intake.
- Reduce Stress. Once you know what you are going to cook you remove any last-minute scrambling.
If you've never done any kind of meal planning, I suggest starting small. Don't start to plan out an entire week at once. Think about your upcoming week and plan one or two meals. There's so much to be said about meal planning. And if you want to dig deeper into meal planning check out this post from Ink + Vault.
#5 Transition into a Semi-Plant Based Life
Transition to plant-based meals. I believe that including a plant-rich diet is one of the best things we can do for ourselves and our bodies.
Plant-based meals are typically lower in fat (especially saturated fats) and high in complex carbohydrates and fiber.
As of right now I still include fish and meat into my diet, but probably 90% of what I consume is plant-based. I still have a weakness for the occasional piece of bacon!
#6 Start Cooking
If you're serious about learning how to start eating healthy, then learning how to cook is going to be a surefire way to set you up for success.
Why? Because you get to control exactly what you eat.
Processed food (take out, dining out...) tends to be full of sugar, salt, and additives.
Lots of prepared food is delicious. But more often than not, it's low in nutrients and full of processed oils and trans fats.
simple recipes help You to start eating healthy:
When you're ready to tackle healthy cooking try any of these simple recipes.
#7 Buy Organic
If possible buy as much organic food as possible.
Your body will thank you. Unlike conventional food, organic food hasn't been treated with antibiotics, herbicides, and pesticides.
Why's that important? Simply speaking, pesticides (and herbicides) are toxic.
If possible buy as much certified organic foods as possible. Your body will thank you. Unlike conventional food, organic food hasn't been treated with antibiotics, herbicides, and pesticides.
Yes, organic foods, cost more. But, as more and more people are looking for organic alternatives, prices have come down over the years. Big supermarket chains now offer a large selection of organic foods.
If you want to slowly transition into organic foods, I'd recommend shopping organic for at least the 'Dirty Dozen'.
This term refers to 12 fresh fruits and vegetables that have the highest amount of pesticide in them!
BONUS TIPS + CONCLUSION
You don't have to embrace a full-on, significant lifestyle change like I did when I started to eat gluten-free.
However, if you are trying to figure out what works best for YOU a (temporary or long-term) elimination diet can be a good way to start.
And if you are planning to make significant lifestyle changes, be sure to discuss it with your doctor or medical professional.
In the end, it's not about how to start eating healthy, but how to eat healthier. You will figure out what works for you.
What are your favorite healthy eating tips? Let's keep the conversation going and leave a comment.